Meet The Oliver Family

The Oliver familyThe Oliver Family lives in St. Paul, MN. They joined our community in 2021–Kellen is in third grade and Cameron is in fifth grade.

What do you love about MPA?
We love the community. As a new family, it was important to us to find a school that offered and encouraged a sense of “welcome.” We found this through the enrollment process, when we met “buddies,” met online with several teachers and administrators, and then when school began where (possibly most significantly) we have found that students and teachers say “hello” and smile beneath their masks at drop-off, pick-up, in the halls and on the playground. We have really enjoyed this sense that everyone has a place at MPA and everyone gets seen at MPA.

What initially attracted you to MPA?
In our recent school search brought about by our family’s move from Los Angeles, CA, we were attracted to MPA’s small size and with that, a greater chance for our children to have individualized attention–both academic and emotional. We were inspired by MPA’s commitment to encourage and teach children to be independent thinkers and to honor, respect, and contribute to our diverse community and world. We also appreciate the emphasis on collaboration.

How are your children encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
We are new to MPA, so still assessing how the school’s “Dream Big, Do Right” is implemented on a daily or yearly and individual basis. However, already, our young boys have been given choices that guide their learning, from language to music to reading and science projects. This opportunity has encouraged them to take responsibility for their development to some degree and to look inside themselves as well as in their community of students and teachers for answers. We look forward to more of these chances to ask big questions, explore what excites us, and seek new knowledge during our years at MPA.

If your children have attended another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
Our children have only ever “attended” homeschool. This included weekly tutor groups, where they would meet with about eight other students within two grade levels of theirs and go through some lessons with a volunteer instructor. MPA is different because it is not at home! This is a new challenge for our boys as they are away from the comfort of “home” and outside the reach of help from Mom and Dad. It is their first experience working with peers on a daily basis and being responsible for their materials away from home. The learning is quite similar, interestingly. We had always taken an approach that was about building an understanding of oneself and the world at large, asking questions and finding answers. We have believed in a supportive environment that is about achievement not for achievement’s sake, but for individual growth and preparation to be part of a larger community.

What would you tell another family considering MPA?
I would tell another family that MPA has been a wonderful place for our family to “land” after a cross-country move and 1.5 years in a pandemic. In only two short months, we have been welcomed and both the kids and we, the parents, have learned quite a bit. My favorite thing I have heard thus far is what Jenn Milam shared at the Middle School Orientation–that her job is to provide 1. Safety, 2. Health and 3. Happiness and that 1 and 2 have to be met for 3 to be possible. MPA has held to those goals and more.

In what ways has MPA prepared your child for life in the 21st century? What are the key attributes, skills, and content that you find most valuable?
This is tough to answer after such a short time at MPA, but what comes to mind are two things:

  1. Relationships. MPA seems to focus a lot on classroom and teacher-student and parent-school relationships. These are challenging to navigate in life, but also essential and super rewarding when done well.
  2. Tech – I love that MPA is incorporating tech skills (including boundaries) into the school day. Computers and the internet will likely be around for our children’s lifetimes, so these are vital to their “success.” I appreciate that the tech component is minimal and purposeful.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your MPA experience?
We appreciate everyone working so hard to keep MPA COVID safe and a wonderful place to learn!


Meet The Cook Family

The Cook FamilyParent Rebekah Cook and her family live in St. Paul, MN, and have a second grader at MPA.

What do you love about MPA?
I love the communication from faculty and staff. I always feel like I know what to expect and when things are happening, which gives me a sense of agency and allows me to be an active participant in my child’s education.

What initially attracted you to MPA?
My good friend, Summer, works at MPA. She would share about what she was teaching and the discussions she would have with her students, and I was like, “I WANT THAT FOR FRANKIE. How do I get that?!” Also, we visited several different schools and at no other school did kids have such confidence. We were strangers walking down the hallway, and kids would say, “Hi!” Or when visiting their classroom, a teacher would ask them a question and they would all be so eager to respond and share–so eloquent and confident. That’s all we wanted for Frankie–to feel confident and safe to be herself!

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
Frankie is curious, empathetic, highly opinionated, and has some natural leadership abilities, but it can sometimes come across at “bossy.” One of Frankie’s goals from her first grade teacher was to not get distracted by others in the room and to put all of her focus on her own work so she could feel challenged and proud. I LOVED this! Her teacher didn’t discourage her to be different or to simulate, but to identify her weaknesses and strengths and channel all of that to make her the best she can be! Read More


Meet Dr. Sirid Kellermann ’88

The Kellermann FamilyDr. Kellermann, class of 1988, is experiencing MPA again as parent to ninth grader Aixa Kellerman!

What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally? How did you get there? Where did you attend college? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?

After graduating from MPA in 1988, I went to the University of Minnesota for a B.S. in cell biology and a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular immunology. Then I had the option to take a job in either Connecticut or Palo Alto, California. The job interviews were both in early December – it wasn’t hard to decide which position to accept! I spent 14 years in the Bay Area at R&D and marketing positions at various drug discovery companies. I also got an MBA in sustainable business management along the way. The Bay Area is a great place to live if you have no kids and you were one of the first 30 employees at Google or Facebook and you don’t mind sitting in traffic on the 101. As none of these applied to me, I found it made sense to return to Minnesota where I ultimately started my own consulting business in 2012. Read More


Meet the Soma Family

The Soma FamilyThe Soma Family lives in North Oaks, MN, and have a first grade daughter.

What do you love about MPA?

We love that character education is as much a part of the curriculum as traditional learning, from PreK through Grade 12. MPA has a clear mission and seems to base all of its decisions on that mission. The academics are top notch but learning feels effortless because my child is having so much fun and feels supported in the classroom.

What initially attracted you to MPA? Do your same needs/desires hold true today?

We were attracted by how friendly and welcoming the MPA community is. From the first day we interviewed, it felt like home. I have always had the feeling that if I had a problem or concern, I could express that freely and that it would be openly received. Read More


Meet Assistant Director of Admission for Lower School Robyn Hare

Robyn HeadshotHow long have you been at MPA?
I have been at MPA for 10 months.

What do you love about MPA?
I love seeing how my son Charlie’s perspective on school has changed. To say it has been transformational would not be an exaggeration. He loves coming to MPA every single day!

How does MPA inspire students who dream big and do right?
I think there are so many ways that we do this. My son comes home and wants to research interesting topics he learned in school. He’s so curious and interested in everything, whether it is learning new ball handling skills in PE, humming new songs he’s learning in music, or researching more about science topics he has been introduced to. It’s so fun to see his eyes opened to all the possibilities ahead of him! Read More


Meet Director of Admission and Communication Natalie Waters Seum

Natalie Head Shot

Favorite teacher to strike up a conversation with walking down the hallway?
Ms. Peterson, kindergarten teacher, because she always has a creative project underway, often with a social justice or service focus. And her energy is contagious!

How long have you been at MPA?
I have been an MPA parent in the Class of 2023 for 11 years and on staff for almost five. My history here extends even further back as my mother-in-law was a faculty member and Upper School administrator for many years prior. I’ve known and loved MPA for nearly 25 years.

If you have worked at another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
During and after college, I worked at an educational cooperative that served both students who were struggling and students who were excelling. The faculty there were particularly adept at hands-on, experiential learning, especially service-learning, similar to MPA. It was there where my passion for serving children and families was born. I could see that even from the administrative office, my work could have a direct impact on students, families, and teachers. If I couldn’t be a teacher (we were already putting my husband through graduate school), this was the next best thing. From there, I went on to the consulting world serving education-related nonprofits, so that I could be home more with my son. I had my eye on the director of communications position at MPA and when the call came from Dr. Hudson, the timing was perfect. In the fall of 2019, I added admission to my scope. There’s nowhere else I’d rather spend my life, both as an administrator and as a parent.

Favorite space on campus?
It is hard to choose just one, but I’d have to say the Benz Courtyard because I love seeing Upper School students enjoying recess. Read More


Meet the Short Herring Family

Harper and Carter Short in the science roomDr. Courtney Herring, pediatrician and member of MPA’s COVID-19 Community Advisory Group, and her children, Carter (grade 6) and Harper (grade 5) share how their experience is going so far this fall at MPA.

How is MPA making sure you’re safe at school?

Harper: MPA has been and always will be my favorite school. They have spent a lot of time on making sure everyone is six feet apart, wearing a mask, and sanitizing their hands. MPA has kept me educated and safe.

How is MPA incorporating the important tasks of building community and maintaining joy while still ensuring the safety of all constituents?

Dr. Herring: The task of re-opening any school during a population health crisis is daunting. The administration and staff at MPA worked tirelessly to build-in safety provisions with logistical planning required to allow our children to return to the classroom. Whereas safety is first, social development and academic delivery should not be demoted to second-level importance. MPA understood these principles and picked up the gauntlet in a way that makes all of us should proud to be part of our “Dream Big. Do Right.” family. By not losing focus, our students have been re-engaged and families supported while relationships continue to be built through in-person and virtual platforms.

Read More


Meet Alumni and Current Parents Victoria Simmonds ’01 and Sam Brown ’94! 

Alumna Victoria Simmonds with her 2 ChildrenOne of the greatest things about MPA approaching its 40th birthday is the number of alumni choosing MPA for their own children. Nate Bander ’09 spoke with two alums, who each brought their families to MPA in the fall of 2020, on why they chose to come home. Meet Victoria Simmonds ’01, and Sam Brown ’94!

What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally and how did you get there? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?

Victoria Simmonds ’01: I was immersed in the world of real estate as a child. My mother was a residential broker, and my father was a commercial developer. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a liberal arts degree, I knew pretty quickly that my future career would involve real estate in some form. Fast forward to now and I am an agent with Edina Realty. I am thankful, every day, to have found a career that I love, and I’m honored by each client who trusts me to help them navigate one of the most important transactions of their lives. The relationships that develop along the way are icing on the cake. Read More


Finding A Home: The Roseth Family’s Journey To MPA

Ava, Andrew, Ari, and Annika Roseth in front of the oceanHow did your family discover MPA? Maybe you saw a billboard or heard an ad on Minnesota Public Radio. Perhaps you read an article about an MPA athletic team, or searched on Google. But for almost 80% of families, finding MPA meant connecting with someone already within our community like a friend, a neighbor, a colleague, or a family member.

For the Roseth family—parents Aaron and Anna, sixth grader Ari, fifth grader Andrew, and third grader Annika—who started in the fall of 2020, discovering MPA began with a bumper sticker on a teammate’s minivan at football practice. That teammate was Dylan Rengstorf, whose sister Emma, attended MPA. Ari and Dylan became fast friends and so did their families.

Shortly before meeting the Roseth family, Jason and Joana Rengstorf had chosen MPA after looking for a school where Emma could thrive in an inclusive place that provided a safe environment for her to excel as a student. When they found MPA, they knew it was the right fit. Read More


Meet the Cowen Family

Cowen FamilyWhat did your journey look like from Chicago to MPA?
We moved to Minnesota from Chicago in 2019 for an exciting career opportunity and to explore a new state, having raised our family in the city for 12 years and then moving to the suburbs.

As a new family to the area, what made you choose MPA over the abundance of other educational options in the Twin Cities?
MPA spoke to us and to our children instantly. Having attended both private/independent and public schools previously; we appreciate the combination of academic rigor and whole child approach. Our children are well rounded with many interests and we wanted to continue to instill in them a joy of learning, an appreciation for the arts, and varied sports and recreational options while also challenging them academically. MPA was immediately our first choice (among many outstanding options) and we could not be more pleased with how much our children love it!

What would you tell another family relocating to the Twin Cities?
Do your homework, know what you want nearby and how you plan to live—and then call us! The Twin Cities are varied and there are many wonderful areas to live in. It took time and patience and we even had to commute for work for nearly a year, but in the end it worked out—especially finding MPA and seeing how much joy the school and community has brought to our family.
Read More